On this day in music history: June 8, 1991 – “More Than Words” by Extreme hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone, it is the biggest hit for the hard rock band from Boston, MA. Forming in 1985, Extreme consists of band members Nuno Bettencourt (guitars), Paul Geary (drums), Pat Badger (bass) and Gary Cherone (lead vocals). Led by Bettencourt’s excellent fretwork and Cherone’s high soaring vocals, Extreme build a solid fan base. Signed to A&M Records in 1988, Extreme’s self-titled debut album is a modest success. Their sophomore release “Extreme II: Pornografitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale)” is a concept album centering around a boy named Francis, growing up surrounded by sex, violence, money and excess. Consisting of mostly heavy rocking songs, though there are a couple of exceptions. The acoustic ballad “More Than Words” is written by Bettencourt with the concept being that simply telling someone “I love you” is meaningless, unless you really show that person that you’re sincere. Playing it to Cherone, the singer pens most of the lyrics. The band test the song out live while on their first tour, then decide to put it on the new album. Originally intended to be a big power ballad, Nuno decides to keep it as it was originally written. When the first two singles “Decadence Dance” and “Get The Funk Out” receive only a fair response. By early 1991, the album has fallen off the chart, and looks to be dead in the water when A&M tries a new strategy. Testing the song on select stations to gauge listener response, it clicks with listeners. “Words” is released in early March of 1991. Accompanied by a simple black & white performance clip, it quickly becomes an MTV staple. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on March 23, 1991, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. However, it proves to be a both a blessing and a curse. Having a huge hit with a song that differs greatly compared to their other material, makes it a hard act to follow. They score another hit with the follow up “Hole Hearted” (#4 Pop), but it is the last time Extreme land in the top ten. Though their third album “III Sides To Every Story” receives good critical notices and stays true to their original sound, it is viewed as a commercial disappointment, though reaches Gold status in the US. “More Than Words” has a long life after its original run on the charts. “Weird Al” Yankovic parodies the song as “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”, with actor Mike Myers also parodying it in the film “The Love Guru”. In May of 2015, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and actor Jack Black film a shot by shot recreation of the original video that is aired on the late night talk show, also going viral on the internet. “More Than Words” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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